What is a Press Release?
Simply stated, in PR consulting the press release is a short (preferably one page) written announcement that is intended for the news media in hopes that they will write a story about your topic. When writing a press release, you must use the same five W’s that are critical to good journalism: who, when, when, where, and why.
The first rule of writing a compelling press release is to think like a journalist, not a business owner or PR professional. That means keeping a few things in mind:
Think headlines, not hype
Writing a story that only extols the virtues of your produce, service, or event is a sure route to the “circular file.” Journalists, as decent as they may be, are not concerned with helping you. Their primary interest is in a good story. If your press release smacks of puffery, there is no motive for the reporter to write about it. Your topic must be timely. Find an angle that will be of interest to the general public. Ask yourself this: If you were not associated with the organization, would you read it?
Reporters are busy
Reporters are constantly being hounded by PR pros. Make you approach them in a courteous, respectful, professional manner. Remember that you are not doing them a favor and they do not owe you. Rather, it is the other way around.
Use proper format
You want the reporter or editor to be immediately aware of what you are sending them. Therefore, it is imperative that you use the proper format that includes your company logo. Following is a sample:
- For Immediate Release
- Contact person’s name
- Contact person’s position
- Contact person’s office phone number
- Contact person’s cell phone number
- Contact person’s email
Headline – this must be interest-grabbing and in bold print.
City, State – Date—Body of story. Remember to include who, what, when, where, and why.
For additional information call Contact Person at 555-555-5555 or email@example.com
(Three number signs signify the end of the press release – a generally accepted practice in journalism.)
Edit, edit, edit
Check over your press release thoroughly for spelling and grammar. While a misspelled word won’t necessarily keep your story from being written, it will adversely affect your image in the eyes of the reporter/editor.
In PR the press release is a universal too. As a public relations professional it is likely that you will find yourself in the position of issuing news releases. Following these simple guidelines will take you far in getting your releases published.